Getting a good night’s sleep for children is extremely important. Sleep has a number of factors that impact a child’s day-to-day life. Good sleep helps enhance our little’s immunity system and keeps it working, helps them maintains a healthy weight, boosts their attention span which increases their learning abilities, and also prevents injuries. I’m sure we all can agree that sleep is a very important aspect in our children’s lives; however the main question is how do we get our children to bed ON TIME??
No matter what age your infant, toddler, or preschooler is having a consistent bedtime routine can make a huge difference in your household. Children do so much better when they know what to expect and what is to come after. Just with any transition, if a child doesn’t know what will happen next, they find their new task to be extremely difficult. As parents, we know what these times look like right? Do tantrums, crying spells, defiance come to mind? We’ve all been there I’m sure, but having a bedtime routine in place will help reduce these stressful times.
1. Watch For Signs of Being Overtired
With our busy schedules, each child will show signs of restlessness at various times. When you notice your child getting tired, be prepared and start your bedtime routine even if that means you have a head start on it. That’s OK!!! Check out the table from parents.com to see how much sleep your child should be getting.
Sleep chart from Parents.com
2. Give Warnings, Not Just Increments of Time
Children don’t understand the time concept like adults do. For example if you tell your child they have five minutes before bedtime, they don’t understand what that truly means. Instead try giving specifics. Such as “It will be bedtime after your snack” or “It’s time for bed when you are done coloring your picture.” These examples will help your child better understand what will happen next.
3. Have a Consistent Bedtime
Make sure your routine is predictable and has the same sequence every night. This will make your child become familiar with the expectations and this routine will just become habit for them at night.
4. Turn Off Electronics
Even though electronics are a main part of our lives, they have a huge affect on our sleep quality. Not only do they keep our brains going, but the blue light from the screen reduces your melatonin levels which is a key element to get a good night’s sleep. Take all electronics away at least one hour before bedtime.
5. Down Time Is Key
Instead of just sending your children off to bed, make sure they get some sort of quiet down time to unwind from their busy day. Some ideas could be having your child color, do a puzzle, cuddle, or read books with them!!! This will help them fall asleep easier and be at ease.
6. Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
Make sure their room is at an adequate temperature, not too hot not too cold. If they like to snuggle with a blanket or stuffed animal make sure they are provided with one every night. As your child gets older, let them set their bed up as they want. If they want to have their stuffed animals tucked in a certain way or have their blankets in a certain direction, let them do so! This is a comfort point for them.
7. Offer Only Healthy Bedtime Snacks
Make sure any snacks they have before bed are healthy and do not contain sugar or caffeine. Some good bedtime snacks include apples, string cheese, whole-grain toast, yogurt and fruit, or a bowl of sugar free cereal.
8. Always Say Good Night… To Everyone!
Make sure your child has the opportunity to say good night to everybody around them: sisters, brothers, moms, dads, pets, etc. This will help your child feel comfortable and ready for bed.
9. Brush Teeth and Go Potty
After bedtime snacks are done and they’re ready to hit the hay, make sure to brush teeth. Brushing teeth at night is even more important than the morning times because of bacteria that builds up during the night and attacks those pearly whites. To help with those self help skills let your children brush first and then you follow up after.